section 718.2

INTRODUCTION AND BRIEF DESCRIPTION

Section 718.2 of the Criminal Code of Canada outlines the principles that must be taken into consideration when imposing a sentence, including aggravating and mitigating circumstances, similar sentences for similar offenders and offences, and consideration of alternative sanctions for all offenders.

SECTION WORDING

718.2 A court that imposes a sentence shall also take into consideration the following principles: (a) a sentence should be increased or reduced to account for any relevant aggravating or mitigating circumstances relating to the offence or the offender, and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, (i) evidence that the offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or any other similar factor, (ii) evidence that the offender, in committing the offence, abused the offenders spouse or common-law partner, (ii.1) evidence that the offender, in committing the offence, abused a person under the age of eighteen years, (iii) evidence that the offender, in committing the offence, abused a position of trust or authority in relation to the victim, (iii.1) evidence that the offence had a significant impact on the victim, considering their age and other personal circumstances, including their health and financial situation, (iv) evidence that the offence was committed for the benefit of, at the direction of or in association with a criminal organization, or (v) evidence that the offence was a terrorism offence shall be deemed to be aggravating circumstances; (b) a sentence should be similar to sentences imposed on similar offenders for similar offences committed in similar circumstances; (c) where consecutive sentences are imposed, the combined sentence should not be unduly long or harsh; (d) an offender should not be deprived of liberty, if less restrictive sanctions may be appropriate in the circumstances; and (e) all available sanctions other than imprisonment that are reasonable in the circumstances should be considered for all offenders, with particular attention to the circumstances of aboriginal offenders.

EXPLANATION

Section 718.2 of the Criminal Code of Canada outlines the principles that a court must consider when imposing a sentence for a criminal offence. The section emphasizes that a sentence should take into account relevant aggravating or mitigating circumstances relating to the offence or the offender. These factors include, but are not limited to, evidence that the offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on certain protected characteristics, such as race, sexual orientation, or disability. The section also recognizes the importance of considering the impact of the offence on the victim, particularly taking into account their age and personal circumstances. In cases where the offender has abused their position of trust or authority, or the offence was committed for the benefit of a criminal organization or was a terrorism offence, these circumstances should be considered as aggravating factors in determining the appropriate sentence. The section further emphasizes the importance of consistency in sentencing, so that similar sentences are imposed on similar offenders in similar circumstances. When consecutive sentences are imposed, the combined sentence should not be unduly long or harsh. The section recognizes that imprisonment is not always the most appropriate sanction for every offender, and that less restrictive sanctions may be appropriate depending on the circumstances. Finally, the section acknowledges the unique circumstances of aboriginal offenders and emphasizes the importance of considering all available sanctions other than imprisonment in their cases. Overall, Section 718.2 of the Criminal Code of Canada aims to ensure that sentencing is fair, just and proportionate, taking into account the unique circumstances of each case and offender, with the aim of achieving rehabilitation and reducing recidivism.

COMMENTARY

Section 718.2 of the Criminal Code of Canada outlines the principles that courts in Canada must take into consideration when imposing sentences. This section serves as a guiding framework for judges to use when determining the appropriate sentencing for a convicted offender. The principles outlined in this section are a reflection of the Canadian legal system's commitment to fairness, equality, and justice. One of the most significant principles outlined in Section 718.2 is that a sentence must take into account any relevant aggravating or mitigating circumstances relating to the offence or the offender. This principle acknowledges that every offence and every offender is unique and that there are countless factors that can influence why and how a crime is committed. Therefore, it is essential that judges consider all relevant factors when imposing a sentence to ensure that it is fair and just. Another crucial principle outlined in Section 718.2 is that sentences should be similar to those imposed on similar offenders for similar offences. This principle recognizes that consistency in sentencing is essential in maintaining public confidence in the justice system. By ensuring that similar offenders are sentenced similarly, the justice system ensures that outcomes are fair and predictable. The principle that offenders should not be deprived of liberty if less restrictive sanctions may be appropriate is also crucial. This principle recognizes that imprisonment should be a last resort and that there may be more effective and less severe sanctions available to the court. Judges must consider all available sanctions to ensure that the punishment fits the crime and that the offender has an opportunity to make amends and reintegrate back into society. Section 718.2 also highlights the importance of considering the circumstances of the victim when imposing a sentence. Whether the victim was a child, elderly, or had specific health or financial circumstances that made the crime more impactful, the justice system must consider all these factors when determining the appropriate punishment for the offender. Finally, the principle of considering the circumstances of aboriginal offenders is crucial in acknowledging and addressing the systemic biases and discrimination that Indigenous peoples have faced in the Canadian justice system. Judges must consider the unique cultural and historical context that Indigenous offenders may be facing and make an effort to ensure that their sentencing takes their community's healing and rehabilitation needs into account. In conclusion, Section 718.2 of the Criminal Code of Canada outlines the principles that must be taken into consideration when determining the appropriate sentence for a convicted offender. These principles reflect Canada's commitment to fairness, equality, and justice and ensure that the justice system considers all relevant circumstances when imposing a sentence. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure that offenders are held accountable for their actions while providing them with the opportunity to make amends and reintegrate back into society.

STRATEGY

When dealing with Section 718.2 of the Criminal Code of Canada, it is crucial to understand the principles outlined in this section and how they can impact a sentencing decision. The principles listed in this section require the court to consider a wide range of factors before imposing a sentence, including the nature of the crime committed, the motivation behind the crime, the offender's personal circumstances, and the potential impact that the sentence will have on the offender and the victim. One of the key strategic considerations when dealing with this section of the Criminal Code is to gather as much relevant evidence as possible about the offence and the offender. This may involve conducting a thorough investigation of the crime and gathering witness statements, medical reports, and other evidence that can help to establish the circumstances surrounding the offence. It can also involve conducting an assessment of the offender's personal circumstances, including their mental health, financial situation, and any other relevant factors that may impact their ability to comply with the sentence imposed. Another important strategy when dealing with this section is to tailor the sentence to the specific circumstances of the offence and the offender. This may involve taking into account the aggravating or mitigating factors that have been established, as well as the impact of the offence on the victim and any other relevant considerations. It may also involve considering alternative sanctions that may be appropriate in the circumstances, such as community service or probation, rather than imprisonment. Finally, it is important to consider the potential impact that a sentence will have on the wider community and society as a whole. This may involve considering the deterrent effect of the sentence, as well as the potential for rehabilitation and reintegration into society. It may also involve considering the impact of the sentence on public safety and the need to protect society from future harm. Overall, dealing with Section 718.2 of the Criminal Code of Canada requires a comprehensive understanding of the legal and ethical considerations involved in imposing a sentence. By gathering as much relevant evidence as possible, tailoring the sentence to the specific circumstances of the offence and offender, and considering the wider impact of the sentence on society, it is possible to ensure that justice is served and that the needs of all parties involved are properly addressed.